Summary: James 4 shows 3 things we need to do in order to DRAW NEAR to God: Clean up! Humble down! Behave yourself!
Drawing Near #3
Lessons from the New Testament
SCRIPTURE READING: James 4:7-10
An anonymous theologian wrote these wise words: “God is great, and therefore He will be sought: He is good, and therefore He will be found.”
This is the third week I’ve been talking about DRAWING NEAR to God. We can see a beautiful truth all through the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments: God is passionately seeking those who are passionately seeking Him.
In Jeremiah 29:13-14, God promises, “If anyone seeks Me with all his heart, I will be found by him.”
James 4:8 says, Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. We want to DRAW CLOSE to God, but the question remains: HOW can we do it? The verse right before shows us the 1st Step is to CLEAN UP our act.
1. Clean Up! James 4:7-8
Verse 7 says: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you …
Before we DRAW NEAR, we must do more than submit to God. We must also resist the Devil. This is a two-pronged approach. And the wonderful discovery is that with these twin principles come with twin promises:
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Our primary interaction with the Devil is very simple: RESIST! Don’t hang out with him. Don’t converse with him. Don’t try to out-smart him. Just RESIST. This verse promises that IF we resist, the devil WILL leave us alone (at least temporarily).
We live in an age when people actually get diagnosed with things like: “poor impulse control” or “oppositional defiant disorder.” Now, I’m not saying such things may not exist, but I am saying that a lot of folks tend to assume they have no responsibility to control their actions. They feel that “If I have a strong urge…I just have to go with it!” Part of drawing near to God is learning how to “Just say ‘No!’”
Look at these verses again: Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
Not only are we to RESIST Satan’s influence, we are also to wash our hands and purify our hearts. It’s not that we will never sin. All of us sin from time to time. But when we sin, we must agree with God that our Sin is ugly. We need to turn away from that sin (this is what Repentance means --- we change our minds to agree with God.) Cleansing filthy hands and purifying tainted hearts is how we show we are serious about DRAWING NEAR to God.
When someone you care about is coming to visit, don’t you clean up your house? You make the beds; you de-clutter the rooms; you mow the yard. If you’re about to see someone important, don’t you take a shower, put on clean clothes, brush your teeth, gargle, and then check out your appearance in the mirror before you see them? Let me ask, Is God important to you? Then clean up, spiff up, and get ready for interaction with God.
Some may wonder why it says, “Purify your hearts you double-minded.” That’s because being double-minded IS a SIN. It shows we haven’t really made the choice between the world and God. You can’t have it both ways. James makes that clear in verse 4: You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
I am reminded of what George W. Bush said about the War on Terror: when he announced to the nations: “You are against the terrorists or you are against us. There is no neutral territory,” In some situations there is no middle ground. There is no room for a person who wants to play both sides. That’s how God feels about anyone who wants to DRAW NEAR to Him.
You can’t turn towards both God and Sin at the same time. Turning to God means turning your back on Satan. Paul wrote about this in Romans 8 when he taught that the mind on the flesh means certain death, but the mind on the Spirit means life and peace. You can’t have your mind on the flesh and on the Spirit at the same time. Choose one side or choose the other.
Friend, God CARES which side you choose! God LONGS for the closeness that comes when His Spirit lives in us. That’s why James 4:5 says, … the Spirit he caused to live in us longs jealously. God is actually JEALOUS with a righteous possessiveness. He WANTS you to choose Him. It breaks His heart when you are double-minded.